Enspectra Health, a Fogarty Institute company that is leading a digital transformation in skin cancer pathology, recently closed a $7.5 million Series A round led by Tsingyuan Ventures, a technology-focused venture fund based in Los Altos, Calif.
Funding success will serve several needs
“Fundraising has been one of our major focuses as we seek to take the startup to the next level,” said Gabriel Sanchez, co-founder and CEO of Enspectra. “Tsingyuan Ventures was the ideal partner because it has experience in early-stage investment and medtech and is dialed into the emerging trend of digital imaging in healthcare.”
The funding will be devoted to product development, clinical data trials, obtaining FDA clearance and expanding Enspectra’s team.
Enspectra has piqued the interest of several investors in the past few years, thanks to its novel hand-held device, the PathWand — just by touching the skin, it immediately shows images of the same cellular structures that appear in the colored stained slides pathologists and physicians use to identify cancerous cells. This promises to reduce the need for traditional biopsies and allow physicians to inspect a larger number of suspicious spots on patients earlier and without pain.
Following its seed stage, which included funding from the National Cancer Institute, Enspectra conducted a pilot clinical prototype study at El Camino Hospital, which showed promise that its device could effectively image skin of different ethnicities and a spectrum of ages, and generate images of cancerous tumors in real-time and without cutting.
A new market opportunity
While conducting the study, the startup saw a new opportunity to further develop its technology and leverage an increasing trend in pathology — the digitization of the colored stained slides pathologists and physicians use to identify cancerous cells. Currently a cumbersome and lengthy process that requires scanning slides – an additional step in the already complex biopsy process — Enspectra’s technology allows images to be easily and directly translated from living tissue to digital representation.
“We see vast opportunities in this emerging wave of digitization,” said Gabriel. “Physicians’ offices are struggling to figure out how to digitize all the glass slides, and our novel technology allows us to generate instant in vivo histopathology images, non-invasively. Adding image classification into our technology will allow us to provide even better service, with the ultimate goal of helping physicians painlessly detect skin cancers earlier.”
The company also intends to add new experts to its team to help take them to the next level, and is poised to begin a larger clinical data study that will be used to build evidence designed to obtain FDA clearance.